Conversation is Good, Discussion is Great

If we ask a probing question that causes team members to seek answers, and we provide time to find/formulate answers, then it is logical that we take the time to gather all the potential answers and then have open discussion and conversations: to listen to what each other has to say.

Make time for Discussion and Conversation

Each team member reports his/her potential answers to the rest of the team. (I suggest that thoughts be reported/shared one thought, one person at a time, in some pattern of rotation that gives everyone an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas to the team. By offering one idea at a time, in turn, each team member contributes to building a complete list of information).

Listen First

It is recognized that great insight and some poor ideas will be intermixed. At this point, it is important to receive all potential answers without discussion, evaluation or judgment.

Suspend Judgment

Reason and judgment applied too soon will stifle communication and foster risk aversion among team members. If this happens, the information flow is retarded and the likelihood of solving the problem is jeopardized). The danger in team problem solving is not that the team will be misguided by misinformation (the team can assess information later) but that the team will not get the important information in the first place.

Prospect for Gold: The Best Ideas

Consider a prospecting metaphor. Answers to the Probing Question are all the material deposits for “panning.” Within the answers give to the probing question are hidden “gold nuggets” of knowledge, understanding, ability, expertise, insight, intuition and resource. But, they are still mixed in with the worthless “sand and pebbles” of partial understanding, blind spots, invalid assumptions and irrational responses. Prejudice and bias will also be captured in the “panning.” This is not a problem because these things will be sorted out in open discussion and conversation.

Useful Discussion Methods

Circular Response Technique:

If there are seven (7) or more members on the team, I suggest the use of the Circular Response Technique where each person offers one statement or answer in rotation. No one can speak twice until everyone has spoken once. By offering one idea at a time, in turn, each team member contributes to building the list of information.

Dyads, Triads, Quads:

In very large groups where it is impractical for all members to speak, use small group communication patterns: (dyads) two (2) people discussing a probing question; (triads) three (3) people discussing a probing question; (quads) four (4) people discussing a probing question. By having each small group record all reported information on flip charts and then reporting to the larger group, volumes of information can be collected in a relatively short period of time.

To learn more Read, Problem Terminators an Amazon ebook

To learn effective problem solving download: The Master Facilitator’s Guide, Volume II, Creative Root Cause Analysis